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8 tips for remodeling your living room

minute read

    Were your eyes just wandering around your living room? Are you longing for a change? Whatever is in your imagination, knowing where to start can be difficult. We have 8 tips to help hone your vision and turn design ideas into a thoughtful plan of action.

    1. Understand the space you have to work with

    This is our first tip because the physical space of your living room has very real limits you'll have to work within. When you begin with a remodel, your concept of the room's physical space can be distorted by the items already in it. You don't have to clear them to measure the room, but doing so will help. Either way, this small step will be more than worth your while. 

    The measurements of the room itself are a good place to begin a diagram that can guide future plans. These core dimensions shouldn't change unless you start demolishing walls and expanding or adjusting the space. 

    Pro tip: Make copies of the simple room diagram. The parameters will serve as consistent guideposts throughout your remodel. Relying too much on a single copy to remain intact throughout your project could cause tedious erasing and redrawing. 

    In addition, always measure the furniture you plan to keep and plan to buy. This goes from set pieces like sofas to side-tables. Your remodel could eventually involve a lot of rearranging, and knowing the exact specs of large items can save time.

    2. Update your living room to make it more functional

    The expression “form follows function" certainly applies to a living room. Your function is going to be the purpose (or purposes) your living room has in your home. 

    To help define your room's function, be honest about what you want it to be. We can't tell you the answer, but here are some examples: 

    • Intimate place to host company 
    • Open space for large get-togethers 
    • Your TV room 
    • A decorative but inviting thru-way to other rooms 

    Your living room's function could be any combination of these and much more. The reason it's important to decide early in your planning is so you can start to design your ideal layout, furniture arrangements and decorations. Let's say you want space to lounge with just a few guests or close visitors. You might arrange seating to face each other and put a table where everyone can easily access refreshments. 

    Here's another example: Your living room has your work-from-home setup. Start your remodeling plans by focusing on the best place for that setup, arrange the lighting, then the seating and so on.

    3. Think about color with intent

    We may not have to point out that color is a major tool in creating the mood of a room. Certain colors are soothing or comforting while others can promote activity. Variety also has effects on feelings, so don't put too much stock in the color of your walls. It's important, sure, but make thoughtful choices about the color of everything, big and small, that goes in your living room. 

    In general, start with a color palette, maybe 2 to 4 colors. As you choose, consider how much visual space the items in your living room will occupy. You could start big: walls, carpet, furniture. The color palette of these larger features will have a proportionate effect on the room's mood. 

    This isn't to say you can't choose a color palette by starting with small items like pillows, plants and knick-knacks. Starting with your favorite or newest pieces is another way you could choose your palette. If your favorite blanket belongs in the living room, let that guide complementary color choices. You be the judge of what you need in the room, decide on its place and surround it with colors and style that fit.

    4. Upgrade your living room lighting

    Although color is a main factor in the mood of your room, so is lighting. The main types of lighting are task, accent and general (or ambient). Your general lighting is a great place to start thinking about an upgrade. Overhead light fixtures and recessed lighting are powerful forms of general light because they have two options: on and off. 

    Some general lighting can double as task lighting, which will be for specific tasks and activities in your living room. You may want a lamp directly next to your reading chair, for example—or you have a great table specifically for board games. Putting a lamp close by or positioning an item beneath an overhead light are conscious choices in task lighting that you can make. The windows in your living room also provide various levels of general and task lighting, so take advantage when you can. 

    Your accent lighting is sometimes the type of lighting best chosen last. The purpose is to accent one or more features of a room. An accent light will complement the ambient lighting of your room by drawing attention to one part of your living room, almost regardless of where you are.

    5. Update flooring to bring the room together

    Popular options for flooring include hardwood, laminate and carpet. Whatever your preference, flooring is very important to your living room design. Everything in the room—including you—needs the floor because of gravity's endless embrace. The floor of your living room may get more use than the furniture and, in turn, greatly influences the look and function of your living room. 

    Consider the condition of your current floor before considering any other preferences. If the floor is in bad condition, you may need to replace it to give your remodel lasting value. In addition, decide how important it is for your living room floor to match the rest of your home. If it is, are you going to update the floor or the flooring in adjacent rooms? Flooring can tie a room together even in very unique home layouts.

    6. Add a centerpiece that "pops"

    When we say centerpiece, we mean whatever the focal point of the room is or will be. Is it the antique coffee table that inspired your entire remodel? How about the painting you love but never had a space for? If your living room is the primary TV room in your home, you don't have much thinking to do. 

    Adding or choosing your centerpiece can be a good early decision to make when planning so that you can remodel with cohesion. Yet, this choice could be divinely inspired as you work on other redesigns, so it's not vital to choose your centerpiece early on.

    7. Replace the windows to bring more light in

    You'll probably put blinds, drapes or curtains over your windows; however, windows that are old or in bad condition can still stick out. Replacement windows don't just look great, either. They can allow more light to flood your living room, serve as task lights, accents and even centerpieces. For example, a large window with unique trim or bay window with built-in seating might be an undeniable focal point.

    8. Add space to your living room

    If you couldn't tell, we're getting into the territory of serious renovation. Windows can be expensive, and so can knocking out a wall to enlarge your living room. It may be wise to consult a specialist or general contractor about how feasible your plans to add or adjust space are. 

    Dream big, but don't assume you can clear any wall you want. Common roadblocks to interior renovations are walls with electrical components or hidden but vital support beams. It's better to know these things before getting too attached to any plans to add space to your living room.

    How much does it cost to update a living room?

    The cost of your living room updates will vary greatly by the nature of the updates. The scale of the changes often has the greatest effect on the cost to update your living room. Costs are affected by exactly what you decide to do. 

    Some costs have wide ranges, such as flooring, windows, furniture and artwork. The bevvy of options to choose from vary in quality and price. Similarly, demolition may cost you little money—maybe you have a sledgehammer lying around. But disposal fees for the remnants can add up quickly. 

    On the other hand, money isn't the only thing a living room update can cost you. A new coat of paint may not cost much money, but the time and effort you'll spend are costs to consider. 

    As you plan and complete work on this exciting project, your initial estimates and final costs may vary. If you design and work carefully, even alongside professionals, you should avoid surprises.

    What is the first thing to do when remodeling a living room?

    Besides careful planning, major features of your living room are usually the best things to do first. We're talking about making serious renovations to walls, replacing floors or windows, as well as painting. These features should be handled first because they're difficult to accomplish later, when the room is filled with furniture.

    How can I redo my living room for cheap?

    We've covered many options in our tips for remodeling your living room. Yet, repainting might be the only project that doesn't cost much money when you do it yourself. There are a couple other options that, with time and effort, can make modify your living room in exciting ways: 

    • Rearrange furniture: It doesn't cost more than elbow grease, and you might even find a way to create more space in the room by uncovering items you prefer to discard. Moving the sofa beneath the window, for instance, can provide a new source of reading light while opening up the adjacent wall for a desk or TV. 
    • Craft or thrift your décor: The options really become endless when you start to consider making your own décor or buying it used. Craft kits and art supplies can be inexpensive, while your creativity can be limitless. So too can resale markets, from massive antique stores with unique, bygone knick-knacks to yard sales where art that speaks to you costs pennies on the dollar. 

    We have one more note on planning to remodel your living room, and you might be able to guess it. Take your time to develop your ideas— draw or list them the best you can, early and thoughtfully. Whether you're rearranging or considering major construction, you're embarking on a process. A high level of preparation will make big differences at many turns in what can be a joyous journey.

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